Category Archives: Ireland

Dublin Lights at Christmascc image by Sebastion Doris on Flickr

Dublin Christmas – Portrait of the City as a Christmas Wonderland

Story by William Brown exclusively for Vagobond.com

Dublin Christmas Lights cc image by Sebastion Doris on FlickrA Dublin Christmas. Dublin may not be the first city you think of for Christmas or Winter travel, but the truth is – it’s a fun city to visit any time of the year. Yes, it rains in Dublin, yes, it can be cold in Dublin but are you there for the outdoors? If you are – then you’ve made a terrible mistake. Dublin isn’t the place for skiing, hiking, or other outdoor activities when it’s cold – but – it’s a city that has weathered the winter for a long time and there is plenty to do indoors at Christmas time.

More than just pubs (which are pretty fantastic anyway – there’s a reason every city in the world has an Irish Pub!) there are spas, gastronomic delights, world class cuisine and plenty of quirky, historic, or downright luxurious hotels in Dublin – like The Westbury Hotel – a five star hote in Dublin. You can relax, watch shows for a fraction of the price you would pay in London or New York, enjoy shopping, and if you are lucky enough to be there at this time of the year you can enjoy a truly Irish Christmas.

Dublin is magnificent at Christmas time. The turning on of the Christmas lights has become an annual pageant that not only switches the lights on, but also kicks up the festive Christmas Spirit like nowhere else on Earth.  More than 30 streets in the city center take part in bringing the season to life.

Whether you are old, young, with family, or on a couple’s holiday – there are numerous Christmas festivals, Christmas Fairs, and other jolly happenings from early December all the way through the New Year.

If you’ve forgotten to send out your Dear Santa letters there are special mailboxes set up just for express service to the North Pole at St. Stephens Green. Santa himself will make appearances at roadshows and malls throughout Dublin bringing elves, Rudolf, Mrs. Claus, and Frosty with him.

You can catch the Santa Experience at Dunnes Store which was voted one of the best children’s Christmas experiences in all of Ireland.  (Dunnes Stores, Henry Street, 2nd Floor, Dublin 1)

In my opinion, one of the best  Santa events is the Santa Grotto at the Dublin Zoo.  From 20-24 December kids can meet Santa, meet gorillas, meet elephants, and arts, crafts and a gift for the kids from old St. Nick himself.

For those who love European Christmas Markets, you won’t want to miss the Christmas Market at Christ Church Cathedralwhich runs for a final day on Saturday, the 22nd of December.  Handmade and festive Christmas crafts and goods are there in plenty for unique gifts and a wonderful Irish Christmas experience.  (Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 8)

There are literally hundreds of special family Christmas events, plays, shopping center displays, and more in Dublin. Here is a pretty nice list of Christmas events in Dublin.

For the adults there are plenty of Christmas cocktail parties, Christmas jazz, Christmas spas, and Christmas events throughout the city up until the big day. And after that, they continue as New Years Events, after that, it’s St. Patricks Day events…this is Ireland after all. No shortage of excuses to grab a pint of Guinness or a fine glass of whiskey.

Wherever you are Best Wishes for Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Or if you prefer the Gaelic - Le gach dea-ghuí i gcomhair na Nollag agus na h-athbhliana! 

county cork

The Best of Ireland and the UK

Guest Story by Stephen Flanagan

When planning a holiday in the U.K. and Ireland, there are a number of not-to-be-missed attractions and destinations that should appear on the trip itinerary. Here are the best of Ireland and the UK. London is an obvious choice; its historic palaces and iconic landmarks are among the best-known and most popular tourist attractions in the world. For travelers looking a little further off the beaten path, here are four holiday destinations that offer unique sightseeing and entertainment options to make the trip a memorable one.


Dublin, Ireland

As the capital of Ireland, Dublin offers a diverse mix of activities and options for visitors to this historic city. Golfers will love exploring more than 40 courses located throughout the city and surrounding areas. The history of Ireland is retold at the National Museum of Archaeology and History with a focus on the medieval period of this beautiful land. The beaches and shorelines of Dublin offer plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun in tranquil surroundings. Scenic Phoenix Park is home to the world-famous Dublin Zoo, a perfect family-friendly destination. For short breaks and extended stays, hotels in Dublin city centre comprise an eclectic mix of quirky bohemian accommodations and five-star hotels to suit any budget or personal preference.

Manchester, England
For football fans, the National Football Museum in Manchester is an experience not to be missed. The home of the Football Hall of Fame and of the famed Manchester United football club, Manchester also offers a wide range of cultural and entertainment choices for guests to this cosmopolitan city. As a centre for commerce and industry, Manchester boasts a number of museums and other attractions dedicated to its industrial heritage. For a bit of spooky fun, Flecky Bennett’s Manchester Ghost Walk is a look at the supernatural history of the city. Travelers seeking the best accommodation in Manchester City have an extensive list of choices; this vibrant business centre boasts several five-star hotels as well as a number of smaller bed-and-breakfast establishments located throughout the area. Although if you’re just here for the football, Manchester United is probably your destination.

Edinburgh, Scotland
The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh offers unique attractions for visitors to this historic city. One of the most intriguing is the Camera Obscura tower in the Old Town district. This scientific marvel projects the light from the top of the tower into a reflective parabolic dish, providing a panoramic view of the entire city of Edinburgh. The Royal Botanic Garden is an ideal place to spend a sunny afternoon. If it rains, as it does so often in this part of the world, the Rosslyn Chapel is located in the southern part of the city and is a favoured destination for students of religious history. Travelers can enjoy easy access to all the city’s attractions from the Royal Mile, which boasts a number of five-star rated hotels and less expensive accommodations.

county corkCork County, Ireland
The home of the legendary Blarney Stone, Cork County has many other attractions for travelers to this enchanted region. Druidic influences are still evident in the area, and the Rock Close is an exceptionally well-preserved example of these ancient ruins. Located on the grounds of Blarney Castle, the Poison Garden includes a wide range of interesting and deadly plants. More traditional garden settings are also available for romantic strolls or quiet contemplation. In the scenic village of Blarney, guests can stay at the Blarney Castle Hotel, a lovely family-owned business with all the modern amenities, or choose one of the numerous accommodations located throughout the county of Cork.

These scenic retreats and exceptional cultural offerings can provide a holiday experience that will be remembered for many years to come.

 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

I’m not a religious man, but I am a drinking one and so it was a treat to visit the Cathedral in Dublin named for that guy who has been responsible for so much fun in mid-March throughout my life. Of course, I could hold him responsible for the bad times too, but that wouldn’t be fair – he’s a saint. Beautiful old church. If they didn’t talk about God inside so much, I might have lingered for longer.